YES – Morenike Adebayo:
Like. Share. Refresh. The subconscious rolling mantra of the procrastinating student convinced that a swift just-five-minutes perusal of their Facebook newsfeed will be exactly that. Fifteen minutes later, perhaps a small twinge of guilt niggles at the mind. An hour passes and all thoughts of productively studying are washed out to sea by crashing waves of new holiday photos, BuzzFeed quiz results and yet another shared “You will never believe what happens next” piece. Trust me, you will believe it.
After an extremely long walk onto campus and climbing that Mount Everest of library stairs, it is purely galling to see screen after screen after screen of slumped-over students scrolling that distinctive website. In one instance of my library travels, I saw a chap with his open laptop beside a library computer with one ignored screen of what appeared to be a blank Word document and the other screen on Facebook! Are you kidding me!?
I am not your parent. How you choose to spend your time dawdling and dallying is absolutely none of my concern. It’s the ‘where’. Snuggled up in bed? Sure. Yawning over that first cup of coffee in the library cafe? You go for it. Nestled amongst yet-to-be-opened books and on a library computer? No. That computer that you have so thoughtfully usurped for “just five minutes of Facebook” could be being used by someone that actually needs to do work.
This is not a wild and off-the-wall idea. In response to their SU’s student experience report in 2012, University of East Anglia trialed a ‘Facebook-free’ zone of library computers, encompassing one floor out of the three IT areas in their library. An initial poll reveals that out of a total of 202 votes received, 48.5% thought the ban was a good idea compared with 38.6% who opposed the idea.
I am not calling for a blanket 24-hour block on Facebook across the uni, this is not North Korea and I am not a monster. Nearly all of the student societies here use Facebook groups to keep in contact with their society members, events are organised and promoted on Facebook, study groups are set up on Facebook – it is a necessary evil. However, if this social media time-sink was blocked during peak times in the library on computers connected to the Internet via a wired connection, this would be fundamentally beneficial for those who want to efficiently use their time for academic reasons.
NO – Will McCurdy:
If you’re silly enough to get distracted by the compelling combination of photos of people you don’t know very well pretending to have fun, high scores on Candy Crush Saga, and “just had a bagel #yolo” calibre status updates that is your newsfeed, then you never deserved a good dissertation in the first place. Its academic natural selection and you’re probably going to fail anyway. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. There are more distractions on the Internet than can be imagined by sane individuals; banning one of them won’t make much difference. No enemy is more determined than one who wants to pay £9,000 pounds a year to watch silly cat videos and read BuzzFeed -Procrastinators gonna procrastinate.
Facebook whether we like it or not is part of the fabric of university life. Almost all university societies use it to co-ordinate their activities. Most subjects have a Facebook page as well. It’s the go to method of communication for students, and by restricting its usage we are sacrificing one important part of university life for another, and prioritising the academic over all else.
If you really want a computer in the library, you can get one. It might not be in the wonderland that is the Harry Fairhurst, but if you’re willing to brave the cold hinterland that is the LFA rooms, music department or the upper echelons of the JB Morrel you’ll find a seat, exam time or no exam time. Or buy a laptop. That’s what your student loan’s for anyway, not buying things off ASOS.
Granted, the idea of banning Facebook in the library may make some sense on paper, but it’s sort of missing the point. Sure, a whole lot of people might be a little more productive if they banned Facebook. But the University shouldn’t be telling you how to live your life anyway. Eating badly and drinking excessively is a pretty bad idea; they don’t ban that, because the university shouldn’t exist as a sort of nanny state, and every personal freedom you take away sets a precedent for more and more invasions of your freedom. Students are clever are enough to decide what’s good for them, rather having our glorious library administration masters doing it for us.
University is all about independence, leaving home and learning to learn for your own benefit. University is not a degree factory. It’s not school, and it’s definitely not your mum. University is about learning to be an adult, and adults can moderate their own social media usage.